Back To Top

[Editorial] Face realities

Moon’s answers in interview show incoherence, skewed perception of reality

President Moon Jae-in had an interview with KBS on Thursday to mark the second anniversary of his inauguration.

In most cases, his answers were discrepant from his previous words and behavior or far removed from reality.

“Investigations and trials to eliminate evils of our society were not started by us but by the previous government,” Moon said in the interview, “We did not plan nor intervene in them.”

“Investigations progress independently, so they are out of our control,” he added.

He is right to say that some investigations started before the change of government, but it is his administration that placed “elimination of evils” on top of the list of 100 tasks it pledged to complete during his presidency.

Nearly 20 government agencies created “evil elimination task forces” under instructions from Cheong Wa Dae, which handed over a roster of people to be investigated to the prosecution.

Moon himself has specified a number of cases that should be investigated.

They include suspicions about the unfair treatment of enlisted soldiers by Army Gen. Park Chan-ju and his wife, a martial law plan drafted by the Defense Security Command, external influence on investigations into Kangwon Land’s illegal recruitments, sex video clips of former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui, actress Jang Ja-yeon’s suicide and sexual abuse of women at a nightclub called Burning Sun.

Most investigations targeting past governments started under the current administration. Now Moon is pointing fingers at past governments. His words do not add up.

He disagreed with criticism that he had appointed inappropriate figures to senior government positions.

Rather, he boasted about his appointments.

“The ministers I appointed without the National Assembly’s reports on the results of confirmation hearings are very well spoken of in terms of job performance.”

The number of nominees to vice minister-level positions who failed to be appointed amid controversies over their qualifications is 11, while 14 nominees to minister-level positions were appointed without bipartisan reports on hearing results. Considering that controversies over nominee qualifications and violations of his own criteria on qualifications, his appointments are nothing to boast about.

Moon regarded recent North Korean provocations as a show of force to both the US and South Korea. He said they did not violate inter-Korean military agreements because they took place outside the no-exercise zone along the military demarcation line, where artillery drills are banned.

The missiles fired by the North are new weapons that the South can hardly intercept. Firing such missiles, whether for a test or not, threatens the security of South Korea. The provocations violated Article 1 of the agreements calling for suspension of all hostile acts in all spaces -- on the ground, at sea and in the air.

He dismissed security dangers and interpreted the provocations in a way beneficial to North Korea.

Moon’s answers on economic issues gave the impression he is divorced from the reality people face.

“We should acknowledge that in a broad view, the South Korean economy has made it big economically. We should be proud of that part,” Moon said, “South Korea is a high growth economy in the G-20 and the OECD.”

In the 36-member OECD, however, South Korea’s growth rate ranked 11th in 2016, 12th in 2017 and 18th in 2018. It recorded negative growth in the first quarter of this year.

“The youth unemployment rate has dropped. The employment situation for those aged 25 to 29 has improved a lot,” Moon said.

Moon is right to say the rate fell. It edged down 0.8 percentage points to 10.8 percent in March from a year earlier, but it is still in double digits. Its “real” rate, which counts the underemployed and the discouraged, was 25.1 percent last year, the worst since 2015.

Problems cannot be solved if Moon tries to see only what he wants to see. If he refuses to recognize fallacies and look at the realities, people cannot but worry about the remaining three years of his presidency.